Monday was a weird day.
Normally my Twitter feed is filled with the usual NBA highlights, random trending hashtags and dankest of dank memes. But yesterday was different. Instead, NBA Twitter was abuzz with crazy stats and magnificent write ups. Not about Durant, or Justise Winslow's FIFA record, or another Porzingis put back slam. This time, it was about one of our own.
Drummond's 29/27 lit up social media for a good 12 plus hours after the final horn sounded in Portland. The Deeeeetroit Basketball gods rolled in the finest barrels of Pistons Kool Aid. The bouncers were gone, and it was an open bar for us to feast. Better yet, we had a game against the defending champs to truly feast on.
Being a fan of a team in the Eastern Conference is not easy. You're constantly reading and hearing about how your team is inferior to the West. Reminded by certain teams in the West that they would be in the playoffs if they would just get rid of the conferences.We look at West Coast road trips like trips to the DMV, they look at trips out East like Spring Break.
Being a Pistons fan has been especially hard. For so many reasons that the other DBB writers and I could publish a book series that would resemble the NBA version of Goosebumps.
So that is what made Monday so unusual. To see people outside of the handful of regulars celebrating one of our guys. It was like having our local neighborhood dive bar invaded for a surprise St. Patty's day.
With all of the articles, the tweets, the posts, the attention - I was more nervous than usual facing the defending champs, in Golden State no less. How would a young team, that just made an improbable comeback respond after a day of being celebrated?
The term "measuring stick" was tossed around prior to the game, because I guess some still may question the legitimacy of this team. A more appropriate analogy would be boxing, because the Pistons took blow after blow after blow after blow. Punches that landed clean as the champ barely broke a sweat. Playing to the crowd on the way back to the corner. The Pistons absorbed every single punch and kept coming.
If the 4th quarter in Portland was ecstasy, then the 3rd quarter in Oakland was beautiful misery, when the Warriors lead stretched to as big as 17. The Warriors went small, smelling blood. And the Pistons wouldn't go down, closing the quarter only down four to the champs. It was messy, beautiful, tough Detroit basketball that only the twisted masochists of Detroit Bad Boys could appreciate.
There's no use in me rattling off stats from the box score, because if you didn't watch this game then you didn't get the full story. This game was the To Pimp A Butterfly of the 2015-16 Pistons basketball. You had to absorb all of it, really take in every note, every moment, every possession to get the truest representation of the game.
Sure it might have looked like an easy Warriors win, but I assure you they never felt comfortable. Their crowd never even got into it until the 4th quarter when they realized it was a game. The Warriors are an all-time great team and defending champions, and they did what defending champions do in close games. Close you out. A gimpy Reggie Jackson couldn't stay on the floor, Drummond was simply awesome and not otherworldly.
But perhaps no one had a better game than Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who made a defensive statement holding Steph Curry to a season-low 22 points (I know that sounds ridiculous but come on, my glass is half full over here). I've never been happier to see Curry jolt in surprise after he caught the ball and realized KCP was already in his face. The MVP shot a dreadful (in his world) 7-18 and was visibly frustrated a majority of the evening.
The Pistons didn't leave Oakland with a win, but they left with respect. They left knowing they took the best shots from the Champs and answered in that 3rd quarter. You can be sure Golden State, if not the rest of the league, took notice.
Honestly, I've never felt better after a loss.
So like I said, Monday was a weird day.